Statement on the Establishment of an Early Learning Commission in New York State

Geri Palast
Executive Director
Albany, NY
December 12, 2006

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) strongly supports the establishment of an Early Learning Commission for the State of New York. CFE calls upon Governor-elect Spitzer to create this Commission that will coordinate and systematize the state's approach to early learning.

CFE v. State of New York guarantees a sound basic education for all of the children of New York State. CFE believes that early education is the foundation of a sound basic education. To that end, CFE strongly endorses the Early Learning Commission for the coordination and oversight of early childhood programs and services. This official body will identify the need for and expand access to high-quality, full-day Pre-K in New York State.

Early education programs are the foundation upon which children gain the essential cognitive, sensory-motor coordination and social-emotional skills without which learning cannot take place. Evidence shows that quality Pre-K programs are the gateway to learning, a cost-effective way to put all children on track to graduate from high school, go to college, and lead successful lives. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the long-term savings to school systems and society at large greatly eclipse the up-front costs of providing these programs.

Pre-K Improves Student Outcomes
• Pre-K increases high school graduation rates;
• Pre-K helps children do better on standardized tests;
• Pre-K reduces grade repetition;
• Pre-K reduces the number of children placed in special education.

Pre-K Prepares Children to Become Responsible and Productive Adults
• Pre-K reduces crime and delinquency;
• Pre-K lowers rates of teen pregnancy;
• Pre-K leads to greater employment and higher wages as adults;
• Pre-K contributes to more stable families.

Pre-K is Cost-Effective and Saves Society Money
• Extending preschool programs to all students, yields $2 to $4 in savings for every dollar invested. Preschool investments for just one age cohort of students could generate as much as $150 billion in savings to the United States.
• For every dollar spent on preschool, states are projected to recoup 50 to 85 cents in reduced crime costs and 36 to 77 cents in school savings.

Strong Public Support for Pre-K
• Voters believe that all children would benefit from Pre-K;
• Voters say children's readiness to do their best in Kindergarten is a high priority;
• Voters want state government to support Pre-K, and view Pre-K as a way to improve the K-12 education system;
• The public believes that state government is not doing enough for Pre-K.

CFE strongly endorses Winning Beginning NY's recommendation that Governor-elect Spitzer create a statewide Early Learning Commission.